A ‘no frontman needed’ army of great musicians dressed in black clothes and comfy shoes are the essential ingredients that make the band, A Genuine Freakshow.
The Reading based 7-piece post-rock pop band played to an intimate crowd at The Cellars in Portsmouth on Tuesday 9 November 2010. The gig was part of a UK tour to promote their new album ‘Oftentimes’ released via the band’s own Peartree Records at the beginning of November 2010.
While I had high expectations for this band, I was not expecting the subtle take over of mind that took place as they mastered their instruments in a way that weaved a spell of mixed emotions. The unique combination of orchestral magicianship, solid grounded bass and rhythm, lead rock guitar licks and the heavenly bonus of the acoustic vocals, were simply breathtaking.
There were sporadic moments that reminded me of an array of rock and pop bands from the 80s, the vocals from Timothy were particular thought provoking with Emo chilled breathy tones that could be compared to that of James Blunt or James Morrison.
Technically they jumped genre’s like a wild rabbit on heat – but the variety of influences were mashed and blended in a way that harmonised into the perfect musical smoothie, producing their own unique sound that only had one label – A Genuine Freakshow.
Reaching for a negative, I was unsure of the band name verses fashion choice. While I appreciated the raw talent and blank canvas conveyed by the plain black clothes and the irony of being a genuine freakshow from within, I would have felt more rewarded as a viewer to have witnessed another dimension to the concept. Fashion and image can be a powerful and simple tool to elevate stage presence and therefore a little out of the ordinary image token could have been the icing on this deliciously layered cake.
However, although the performance for this band did not arrive in your face, energy based and image or personality dominated. The performance was exquisite in the sense that it was delivered by the genuine emotion communicated and passion for their music. As A Genuine Freakshow absorbed further into the set and fell into the depths of their own music, they seemed entranced and at one with their own instrument. In particular, Melanie and Marianne didn’t just play their instruments; they embraced and pleasured their cello and violin to release the beautiful harmonies that wrapped the music in velvet.
The last three songs completed the magic and built to a collective musical climax, invoked by the 7 musicians that swooped the willing and open wide audience along with them. In such a small venue there was no option but to be completely mesmerised by their music and overcome by their performance, which I imagine would have been equally, if not more impacting, at their recent Bestival performance.
The bands decision to run their own label was one of determination to retain ownership of their music and control their musical destinies. A destiny that I am sure will be filled with success.